The spring art auctions in New York have long served as a litmus for what’s happening in the chronically over-heated contemporary art world. Here we take a look insides at Christie’s upcoming offerings, which will be drawing big name collectors (and their advisors) from all over the world. Viewings began on April 30th.
May 8th: Launching the 20th Century season in New York, the Bound to Fail auction presents the works of artists who have pushed the boundaries of fine art and commercial success. Jeff Koons’s One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank and Maurizio Cattelan’s Him — as well as groundbreaking works from Cindy Sherman, Er and Martin Kippenberger, are among the pieces in this 39-lot sale, with Bruce Nauman’s figurative and literal homage to the artist’s struggle at its centre.
May 10th: The Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale offers up 61 lots featuring leading modern masters and current contemporary stars. The auction will be led by the seminal No.17 from Mark Rothko, the tour de force Untitled from Jean-Michel Basquiat, a richly textured abstraction from Clyfford Still, a group of rarely seen Alexander Calder mobiles and a comprehensive selection from Richard Prince’s oeuvre. Estimates for Untitled have reached $40 million. Executed in Modena, Italy in the prime year of Basquiat’s short career (he was just 22 years old), Untitled is considered one of the artist’s defining works and has been included in every major retrospective of his art. It contains Basquiat’s heroic portrait of himself as a fiery black devil rising amid an explosion of paint that has been thrown onto the canvas a la Jackson Pollock. “Untitled is a remarkably powerful canvas, which instantly engulfs any viewer standing in its monumental presence,’ says Brett Gorvy, Christie’s International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art.
Untitled is the largest in a series of paintings that Baquiat undertook in Modena in the spring of 1981 and 1982. “We are confident that the supreme quality and rarity of “Untitled” will command tremendous interest from the world’s leading international collectors,” Gorvy says.
May 12: The sale of 52 lots will be led by two masterpieces by Claude Monet that represent the best of his early work in Argenteuil and his later Nymphéas series, a portrait by Amedeo Modigliani, a significant Mousquetaire from Pablo Picasso, a group of works by surrealist master René Magritte and a Frida Kahlo painting — the first to appear in a public auction since 2006. This auction highlights artistic shifts from Impressionism’s earliest days and its focus on the manipulation of light and experimentation to the colors, materials, textures and media that became synonymous with modern art.